A Trip to the Dublin Emergency Room

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A Trip to the Dublin Emergency Room

Category : Travel

“’Ave you ‘ad a hard night on the drink then, young lady?” says the voice with the Irish accent for what seems like the fifteenth time.

I ignore him, and allow darkness to enclose me once again. But a set of fingers jabs into my breastbone, and I’m forced to gasp and rip my eyes open.

“Are you Irish or Spanish?” inquires another voice, and I suddenly see a plump man with a clipboard staring down at me. “Here for work or for study?”

“American,” I manage to hoarsely growl. “Here…for….vacation.”

“Oh no,” says the first man. “Well it’s only uphill from here! Tomorrow you’ll be out at Temple Bar enjoying a nice pint of Guinness.”

The thought of that thick, smelly beverage nauseates me in my thoroughly nauseous condition. I push myself upward, for I’m coughing and violently heaving again, with cold sweats running down my face.

“Bloody hell, the American’s ill again,” says the man with the clipboard, and he shoves a plastic bag under my tortured mouth.

I’m in a Dublin emergency room on the first day of my Easter holiday, having just spent the beginning of this semester as a study abroad student in Madrid, Spain. There’s some 24-hour stomach bug going around in Madrid, and boy, have I brought it to Ireland.

I have not had a hard night on the drink, as the local hospital staff has been continuously (and annoyingly) implying. I just got so sick on the plane that I became dehydrated to the point of immobility and semi-unconsciousness. Having run out of airplane barf bags, I was forced to drag myself to the airplane restroom where I lay in a pathetic slump until we landed, and they came to take me away on a stretcher.

“’Ave you got insurance then, young lady?” asks the man with the clipboard.

He’s trying to drip-feed me much-needed liquid, and is violently poking around for a vein.

“What?” I asked, startled. “This…not….America…”

“My, it’s not easy to find your veins then, now is it?”

He’s poking and poking, and the sharp pain keeps me awake. This ER is cold – bitter cold – and I’m trembling heavily. And I’m thirsty…so very thirsty….

“’Ave you been using drugs? Are you in the family way?” asks the first man.

It takes me a few moments to comprehend the second question. I begin to cry. They think I’m a bad girl! Pathetically, I begin to cry, but just then my vein is stabbed, and I feel a cold substance flowing rapidly in my arm, feeding me energy.

I’m left alone. So thirsty. There is an obese, shirtless man sitting on a cot in front of me, and he’s got a big plastic bottle of glimmering ginger-ale.

“Oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” he screams, again and again. “I’m in pain Mary!”

I want a drink of his ginger-ale so bad that I’m frothing at the mouth. But the nurse says I can’t have anything to drink, because I’ll get sick again. Now I’m feeling so cold my whole body is shaking, and I can’t take my eyes off the hands of that man, innocently clutching his delicious ginger-ale.

“Oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” we yell together. But I can’t convince him to give me some of his drink.

Later that night, a friend from my study abroad program (with whom I organized this trip) comes to pick me up. He gasps when he sees me, because I look so miserably horrible.

He takes me to our youth hostel, where I curl up in a sad lump on my bunk-bed. The pretty sound of Irish accents lulls me to sleep. Twenty-four hours later, I recover completely, and we set off into the hauntingly beautiful Dublin Mountains.


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